Aug 13 2016

1996: June 29-July 5

tvweek_290696Cover: Tasma Walton, Lisa McCune (Blue Heelers)

Wake up, Ramsay Street!
Network Ten has denied rumours that there were plans to dump Neighbours in favour of a new soap being developed by Southern Star, the producer of Ten’s ill-fated Echo Point. “The network is totally committed to keeping the show on air and is very happy with the new direction the show is taking,” Greg Stevens, the former Home And Away script producer now working on Neighbours, told TV Week. Ratings for Neighbours have taken a dive in recent times, with figures dropping to low double-digit shares in Sydney and Melbourne, and occasionally hitting single digits up against Today Tonight and A Current Affair. Stevens is confident that the new-look Neighbours, featuring more dramatic storylines and some surprising guest characters, will boost the ratings. “I believe that if we give the public good, strong emotional-based stories, they will respond with increased loyalty.” Viewers will start to see the changes on air from August, coinciding with a major publicity campaign.

maryannefahey_0001The gift of the gab!
Former The Comedy Company regular and Kittson Fahey co-star Maryanne Fahey (pictured) is making a return to TV — but you won’t see her on screen. Fahey is one of cast of actors providing voices for the Nine Network‘s animated series Crocadoo. Also featuring in the 26-part series are Judy Morris, Simon Westaway, David Gibson and Aaron Pedersen. Fahey’s former husband Ian McFadyen is also working as a writer for the series. Crocadoo tells the story of the battle between a hard-nosed property developer and a bunch of crocodiles.

grantbowler_0001Grant’s bald role
Former Blue Heelers star Grant Bowler (pictured) has landed a role in Network Ten‘s new medical drama Medivac, playing the part of Dr Archibald Craven. “The character’s great,” Bowler told TV Week. “He’s a very fine doctor who’s a heavy metal drummer at night. He’s got a shaved head, tattoos, the whole bit.” Bowler has also adopted the character’s wild-boy image by shaving his head and applying some fake tattoos. Viewers will also see Bowler soon in an eight-week guest stint on Pacific Drive, playing the role of leather-clad conman Garth Stephens. Production of Medivac is now in progress in Brisbane.


  • Don’t Forget Your Toothbrush‘s Tim Ferguson is to host a pilot for a new version of Blankety Blanks, the top-rating game show hosted by Graham Kennedy in the 1970s. The pilot, being produced at Nine, is set to feature panellists including Ernie Sigley, Ian ‘Molly’ Meldrum and Elle McFeast (Libbi Gorr).
  • Production of Foxtel‘s soap parody Shark Bay has wrapped up, with the series due to debut in July. Series co-star Tina Thomsen is now set to return to Home And Away for a one-week guest stint, while Rowena Wallace is to join the cast of Pacific Drive.
  • salliannedeckertJournalist Sallianne Deckert (pictured), previously from A Current Affair and Sex, is the newest recruit to Seven‘s Talk To The Animals. Although Deckert grew up on a farm in Victoria, she wasn’t quite prepared for working with animals in her new job. “I thought I knew quite a bit about animals, but I’ve realised I don’t know anything at all,” she told TV Week. “I’m finding out more and more as we go.”

TV’s National Top 10 (Week Commencing 9 June 1996):
Source: AC Nielsen Australia Pty Ltd

Rank Program Network Day(s) Viewers
1 Blue Heelers Seven Tue 2329000
2 ER Nine Thu 2238000
3 Better Homes And Gardens Seven Tue 2199000
4 The Great Outdoors Seven Tue 1965000
5 Burke’s Backyard Nine Fri 1953000
6 Our House Nine Wed 1849000
7 60 Minutes Nine Sun 1821000
8 National Nine News Nine Sat 1805000
9 National Nine News Nine M-F 1794000
10 JAG Seven Mon 1792000

Program Highlights (Melbourne, June 29-July 5):
Saturday: Beyond 2000 (3.30pm, Ten) reports on a deadly poison that gives new life to kids with cerebral palsy; and a rocket that could replace the space shuttle. In Sweat (5.30pm, Ten), ignoring warnings from Greg (Quintin George) not to overdo it, Stewie (Heath Bergersen) pushes himself to the limit to impress the guest coach. Saturday Night Football (8.30pm, Seven) includes Fremantle Dockers versus North Melbourne, live from Perth.

miketomalarisSunday: AFL Sunday includes Adelaide Crows versus Melbourne (2pm, Seven), live from Adelaide, followed by highlights of Footscray versus West Coast Eagles (5pm, Seven) from Whitten Oval in Melbourne. Les Murray and Johnny Warren present a half-hour review of Euro 96 (7pm, SBS) ahead of tonight’s final, while Mike Tomalaris (pictured) and Phil Liggett present the first highlights from the Tour De France (7.30pm, SBS). Sunday night movies are Rising Sun (Seven) and Mad Dog And Glory (Ten) up against the debut of mini-series Gulliver’s Travels (Nine). The Euro ’96 Final (4am, SBS), Czech Republic versus Germany, is live from Wembley Stadium in London.

Monday: In Neighbours (6.30pm, Ten), Casper (Adam Fiorentino) is scared half to death by the sight of a partially hidden body in the boys’ clubhouse. In Water Rats (7.30pm, Nine), the crew are kept busy by a group of drunken university students on Shark Island and are given a hand by national parks and wildlife officers. Healthy Wealthy And Wise (7.30pm, Ten) presents the second of its special episodes from along the Murray River — with Iain Hewitson looking at the fruit offerings of the Sunraysia region, Jim Brown reports on local camping sites, and Peter Wherrett investigates the ingenuity of paddle-steamers.

Tuesday: In The Great Outdoors (8pm, Seven), Frankie J Holden tours the Moroccan city of Casablanca. In GP (8.30pm, ABC), Henry’s (Steve Bisley) loneliness propels him to the gym where he becomes involved with an instructor. In Blue Heelers (8.30pm, Seven), as the Heelers become involved with discipline problems at the local high school, Tom (John Wood) realises that his own problems are nothing in comparison to that of the new school principal’s.

Wednesday: In Neighbours (6.30pm, Ten), Angie (Lesley Baker) and Stonie (Anthony Engelman) come to grips with the robbery; while Lou (Tom Oliver) realises his relationship with Cheryl (Caroline Gillmer) is shaky.

Thursday: In Home And Away (7pm, Seven), Duncan (Lewis Devaney) and Dylan (Corey Glaister) tape over Angel’s (Melissa George) video of Shane. In Mercury (8.30pm, ABC), Tess (Julie Forsyth) takes over Rocco’s (Michael Veitch) newspaper column for the week.

Friday: In Home And Away (7pm, Seven), Chloe’s (Kristy Wright) attacker is caught. Rex Hunt Fishing Adventures In The Kimberleys (8.30pm, Seven) features Rex Hunt touring the Kimberley region in Australia’s north west, experiencing breathtaking views of the Pentecost and Chamberlain Rivers. Friday Night Football (9.30pm, Seven) features North Melbourne versus Carlton from the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Source: TV Week (Melbourne edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide. 29 June 1996. Pacific Publications Pty Ltd.

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Aug 13 2016

1996: June 22-28

tvweek_220696Cover: Tom Cruise

Angel’s saviour
Home And Away‘s recently-widowed Angel (Melissa George) is set to be swept off her feet by Simon Broadhurst (Julian Garner) in a storyline that is to mark George’s departure from the series. “Simon’s a rich businessman who develops (computer) software. He’s kind of the Bill Gates of England,” Garner tells TV Week of his character. “I think Simon’s definitely interested in getting together with Angel. He really is taken by her. He really cares about her a lot, in fact. A lot of people in Summer Bay like Simon and think he would be good for Angel in helping her to move on and be happy.”

nadinegarner_0002A new twist to Bryan’s career
Actor Bryan Brown — also a member of the TV Week Logie Awards Hall of Fame — has taken on a new role to promote new talent with his new series Twisted Tales. With the idea of producing a series of twelve half-hour dramas, Brown placed a newspaper advertisement requesting scripts for the project. He ended up receiving more than 1200 entries which was culled to 12. Most of the successful script submissions came from writers who have never had a work go to production before. TV Week was invited to view the filming of The Crossing, one of the episodes of the upcoming series. The Crossing, starring Justine Clarke and Nadine Garner, tells the story of dramatic changes to a woman’s life after a serious car accident. “This is draining,” Garner (pictured) told TV Week. “There is actually quite a lot of pressure to this shoot. We have such limited time, and that is difficult when you are having to capture such high drama.” Garner was also full of praise for Brown in establishing the series. “It’s a very generous thing to do — giving back to the industry and giving new talent a go.” Twisted Tales goes to air on Nine later in the year.

sigridthorntontemueramorrisonWhipping up controversy
In preparing for her role in the upcoming telemovie Whipping Boy, actress Sigrid Thornton sat in on sessions of the NSW Royal Commission into police corruption. In Whipping Boy, based on the novel by Gabrielle Lord, she plays single mother and lawyer Cass Meredith, the state-appointed head of an inquiry into a child pornography racket. The Network Ten telemovie also stars Temuera Morrison (pictured with Thornton) as John Carrigan, a former vice squad detective suspected of corruption whose appointment to the task force cause conflict.


  • danieljohnsSilverchair lead singer Daniel Johns (pictured) was one of the performers at the lavish $300,000 party to launch the Foxtel music channel, Red.
  • Following the success of Nine‘s Water Rats, the former ABC drama Patrol Boat could be making a comeback. Producer James Davern, who created the series which ran from 1979 to 1983, has been in discussion with the Ten Network about reviving the drama for the Nineties.
  • The Seven Network has denied rumours that Family Feud host John Deeks will be replacing John Burgess as host of Wheel Of Fortune after production of the show moves to Sydney. “John (Deeks) was in Adelaide doing some fill-in voice-over work on Wheel and that’s how the rumour started,” a Seven spokesperson told TV Week. Wheel Of Fortune, an Adelaide-based production since it began in 1981, will be moving to Sydney this month.
  • marcusgraham_0002Former E Street star Marcus Graham, currently appearing in the Melbourne Theatre Company production of Julius Caesar, is soon to start filming on the new Nine Network series Good Guys Bad Guys. Graham (pictured) is to play the part of Elvis Maginnis, a cop with connections in high and low places, and a weakness for women.
  • Grahame Bond, who played Aunty Jack in the ABC series of the same name, fears that early episodes of the 1970s comedy may be lost forever. He recently approached ABC to discuss releasing the show on video but was told that some episodes can not be found. Because Bond and co-star Rory O’Donoghue own the music and script rights ABC can’t repeat the series, release it on video or sell it to pay TV.

TV’s National Top 10 (Week Commencing 2 June 1996):
Source: AC Nielsen Australia Pty Ltd

Rank Program Network Day(s) Viewers
1 State Of Origin: NSW v QLD Nine Mon 2284000
2 Blue Heelers Seven Tue 2267000
3 ER Nine Thu 2220000
4 Better Homes And Gardens Seven Tue 2191000
5 The Great Outdoors Seven Tue 2033000
6 Burke’s Backyard Nine Fri 1985000
7 A Current Affair Nine M-F 1955000
8 60 Minutes Nine Sun 1919000
9 Movie: Groundhog Day Ten Sun 1899000
10 National Nine News Nine Sun 1871000

Program Highlights (Melbourne, June 22-28):
Saturday: Beyond 2000 (3.30pm, Ten) reports on tyres what won’t go flat; and unlocking the secrets of Alzheimer’s disease. In Sweat (5.30pm, Ten), Tom (Martin Henderson) is on a downward slide and turns to steroids. In Bush Tucker Man: Stories Of Survival (6.30pm, ABC), Les Hiddins traces the journey of ill-fated explorers Burke and Wills who may have fared better if they had known more about the preparation of bush tucker. Saturday Night Football (8.30pm, Seven) features Brisbane Bears versus Melbourne, live from Brisbane, with Sandy Roberts and commentators Malcolm Blight and Don Scott.

kristieraymondSunday: AFL Today (1pm, Seven) features Sydney Swans versus Footscray, live from Sydney, followed by West Coast Eagles versus St Kilda, live from Perth. In Banjo Paterson’s The Man From Snowy River (6.30pm, Nine), Danni (Kristie Raymond, pictured) falls in love with a charming young man, known only as Tuck (Christopher Gabardi), who arrives at Langara. Sunday night movies are Something Is Out There (repeat, Nine) and Death Becomes Her (Ten), up against the debut of two-part mini-series Murderous Passion (Seven).

Monday: In Home And Away (7pm, Seven), Hannah’s (Brooke Anderson) father (Scott McGregor) comes after her. Australia’s Funniest Home Video Show (7.30pm, Nine) presents a one-hour “best of” special. Healthy Wealthy And Wise (7.30pm, Ten) features the first of two special episodes on a journey down the Murray River, crossing three states along 2500 kilometres. Nine begins two weeks of nightly coverage from Wimbledon (10.35pm), featuring commentators John Newcombe, Fred Stolle, Tony Trabert and Betty Nagelsen.

bernardkingjohnjarrattTuesday: In Neighbours (6.30pm, Ten), Danni (Eliza Szonert) climbs the fashion ladder after hearing from a rock star who sees her dress in the local newspaper. In Better Homes And Gardens (7.30pm, Seven), Bernard King (pictured with co-host John Jarratt) makes a guest appearance to offer tips on preparing for a dinner party. British comedy duo Gareth Hale and Norman Pace star in a one-hour special, Hale And Pace Down Under (8.30pm, Nine). In Blue Heelers (8.30pm, Seven), Tom (John Wood) is faced with a dilemma when the attempted suicide of Clancy’s (Michael Isaacs) mother places the future of her intellectually disabled son in jeopardy.

Wednesday: In Home And Away (7pm, Seven), Keith (Scott McGregor) goes to Fisher’s (Norman Coburn) office with a gun, determined to get what he wants. Steve Robilliard and Anne Sargeant host coverage of Australia versus New Zealand at the Netball International Test (8.30pm, ABC) in Adelaide.

Thursday: In Getaway (7.30pm, Nine), Jeff Watson reports on a new accommodation package at a famous Sydney tourist destination; Catriona Rowntree presents a travel guide of Jerusalem and later goes backpacking at Ko Phangan, Thailand; and Lochie Daddo views the Great Barrier Reef from a surveillance plane. In Mercury (8.30pm, ABC), Tess MacDonald (Julie Forsyth) is working secretly on an exclusive story.

Friday: In Home And Away (7pm, Seven), Chloe (Kristy Wright) is attacked on her way home from a party. Rex Hunt and Steve Starling host the special, Rex Hunt Fishing Adventures In Vanuatu (8.30pm, Seven).

Source: TV Week (Melbourne edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide. 22 June 1996. Pacific Publications Pty Ltd.

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Jul 30 2016

Obituary: Vivean Gray

viveangrayActress Vivean Gray, best known to viewers as Mrs Jessup in The Sullivans and Mrs Mangel in Neighbours, has died at the age of 92.

The English-born actress came to Australia in the 1950s, just as TV was beginning in this country. Like many actors at the time, Gray appeared in guest roles in early Crawford cop dramas Homicide, Division 4 and Matlock Police.

tvweek_031081Other roles followed in Power Without Glory, Solo One, Bluey and the ABC series Lucky Colour Blue, but it was her role as Ida Jessup in the World War 2 drama The Sullivans that made her a household name. Gray played the gossipy Mrs Jessup for the show’s entire six-year run, winning TV Week Logie Awards in 1978 and 1981 for Best Supporting Actress. It was front-page news of TV Week when the widowed Ida Jessup married Arthur Pike (Wallas Eaton).

Later credits included Carson’s Law, Anzacs and All The Rivers Run and a brief stint as prison inmate Edna Pearson in Prisoner. But Gray’s next defining role would be one that had parallels to Mrs Jessup. The character of Nell Mangel, the stereotypical nosy neighbour that was never short of an opinion, was initially written in to Neighbours in mid-1986 as a guest role but proved so successful that she stayed on. Gray ended up leaving the series after only two years following negative public reaction from viewers unable to separate Gray the actress from Mrs Mangel the gossip. Her departure from Neighbours was marked with Mrs Mangel’s marriage to Englishman John Worthington (Brian James) and calling a truce with frequent opponent Madge Bishop (Anne Charleston).

YouTube: The Soapology’s Channel

Although Mrs Mangel left Ramsay Street almost three decades ago, the Mangel name lived on for years to come with various offspring still residing in Ramsay Street — and a portrait painted by Helen Daniels (Anne Haddy) still makes the occasional cameo appearance.

Film credits for Gray included Libido, A City’s Child, Picnic At Hanging Rock and The Last Wave.

Source: The Guardian, IMDB, Perfect Blend. TV Week, 31 May 1986.


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Jul 18 2016

Classic TV Guides: Bert Newton around the dial!

gownoftheyearIf people in more recent times wanted to dub Eddie McGuire as “Eddie Everywhere”, then they would find McGuire to be an amateur compared to Bert Newton in July 1973.

Newton had less than a year earlier lamented in a newspaper interview that he’d not had a lot of TV work during 1972, with his presenting commitments not extending much further than the TV Week Logie Awards and a series of commercials for TV rental company Canberra Television.

Go forward to July 1973 and it’s a different story. In the time since that newspaper interview Newton had reunited with his former TV partner Graham Kennedy for The Graham Kennedy Show.

And in mid-July Newton was appearing on not one but three rival channels — at a time when Melbourne only had four.

As well as The Graham Kennedy Show, Newton had a seven-week variety show on ABC, The Bert Newton Show, screening on Monday nights.

Newton (pictured above with models Jan Murray and Jill Considine) was also the host of ATV0‘s one-hour special Gown Of The Year, an awards presentation for Australia’s fashion industry. The 1973 awards marked the Gown Of The Year‘s 20th anniversary.

One program that didn’t feature Newton this particular week was a comedy special The True Blue Show. The one-hour program, produced at Sydney’s ATN7, was a sketch comedy production featuring Gerry Gallagher, Sue Walker, John Derum and Emma Gray. The special was the precursor to a regular series to go to air on the Seven Network later in the year.

The Gown Of The Year and The True Blue Show screenings are among the ten listings now added to the Classic TV Guides section:




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Jul 10 2016

Looking back at 50 years of Play School

kateritchiebigtedThe ABC special Big Ted’s Excellent Adventure: 50 Years Of Play School takes a look back at Australia’s longest running children’s show.

Hosted by Nova FM‘s Kate Ritchie, the program features rare footage from the Play School archive — including scenes from the very first episode that went to air on Monday, 18 July 1966, plus some of the show’s earliest presenters.

Presenting their memories of Play School throughout the program are just some of the presenters who have graced the Play School set over the years, including Noni Hazlehurst, Benita Collings, John Waters, John Hamblin, Lorraine Bayly, Alister Smart, Georgie Parker, Luke Carroll and Justine Clarke. Other well known celebrities, including Craig McLachlan, Mikey Robins, The Wiggles, Hannah Gadsby, Joe Hildebrand, Nazeem Hussain, Benjamin Law, Adam Liaw and Andrew Gaze also share their memories of growing up with Play School.


John Hamblin and Lorraine Bayly

The special revisits some of the feedback that the show had received over the years, including the outrage from the media when one segment featured a family of two mothers.

Although Play School was produced for many years ‘as live’ — meaning that it all had to be done in one take — some bloopers inevitably had to be cut. Viewers will get to see a few such moments… which perhaps should carry a warning of containing obscene language! There are some words we just never imagined Benita blurting out on camera!


Benita Collings and John Waters with pianist Warren Carr

leighsalesannabelcrabbABC is also commemorating Play School‘s 50th anniversary with a series of short segments featuring a mix of Play School presenters and some other familiar faces giving their own take on some Play School songs and stories. Guy Sebastian, Magda Szubanski, Molly Meldrum, Hamish and Andy, Leigh Sales, Annabel Crabb, Lee Lin Chin, Carrie Bickmore, Dami Im, Delta Goodrem and Kate Ceberano are just some of the names to appear in the segments that have been airing during the month on ABC Kids and on ABC iView.


Anne Haddy and Kerry Francis

playschool_0001Since its debut in 1966, Play School has clocked up around 2250 episodes and amassed a library of almost 2000 songs. Six versions of the opening titles have appeared over 50 years. The show was awarded a TV Week Logie in 1998 for Most Outstanding Achievement In Children’s Television and was inducted into the TV Week Logie Awards Hall of Fame in 2006.

The program has been a commercial success for ABC through product merchandising, concerts and recorded media and led to spin off titles Bananas In Pyjamas and Little Ted’s Big Adventure.


Alister Smart and Jan Kingsbury

Big Ted’s Excellent Adventure: 50 Years Of Play School. Tonight, Sunday 10 July, 7.40pm. ABC

Pictures: ABC




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Jul 07 2016

Mass For You loses in WIN changeover

massforyouathomeThe recent changes in regional television affiliations have seen one of Australia’s longest running shows slip through the cracks.

Network Ten‘s Sunday morning program Mass For You At Home has not been picked up by the network’s new regional partner WIN, even though it had been screening through its previous affiliate Southern Cross Ten.

WIN, which covers regional Queensland, Southern NSW/ACT, Tasmania, regional Victoria, South East South Australia and regional Western Australia, has instead opted to schedule a syndicated American program, This Is Your Day With Benny Hinn, in the early morning Sunday timeslot. While this is also a religious program it does not fulfill the same objective as MFYAH and presumably is paid-for programming, like an infomercial, or derives revenue through commercial breaks. MFYAH goes to air commercial free.

MFYAH was started in 1971 as a Melbourne-only production, at a time when television stations were obliged to run a certain amount of religious programming. These days it airs across the Ten Network as a community service to allow viewers — mostly those isolated whether by age, distance, illness or imprisonment — access to participate in Sunday Mass. Even though it is broadcast early on Sunday mornings it claims a loyal following of viewers and supporters.

Despite the financial challenges Ten has faced over the years it has continued to support and broadcast MFYAH every week, still commercial free, missing only on the odd occasion when sporting telecasts or other obligations have taken precedence over the timeslot. The network donates production staff and facilities for the program and pays the cost of music licencing fees.

The program was bumped to Eleven a couple of years ago but has since been returned to the primary Ten channel. It is currently also screening on pay TV public access channel Aurora and is available to view online at TenPlay.

MFYAH continues to go to air on Network Ten outlets in other regional markets not covered by WIN.

Source: TenPlay, Aurora, Mass For You At Home



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Jul 03 2016

Regional WA gets its Nine back

9_logo_2009_0002West Digital Television, the regional WA operation that had its programming disappear on Friday, was last night back on the air with programs.

The station, a joint venture between regional networks Prime and WIN, had previously carried Network Ten programming but WIN’s deal to take over Ten affiliation from 1 July saw West Digital have to negotiate a new agreement with Nine.

Discussions between Nine, Prime and WIN failed to come to a conclusion by close of business on Thursday night, leaving West Digital to replace all programming across its three channels (which had formerly carried Ten, One and Eleven) with a loop of picturesque scenes of rural Australia from 12 midnight on Friday morning.

The change triggered a firm rebuke from the Australian Communications and Media Authority, reminding the parties involved that a broadcasting licence comes with an obligation to actually provide a service that “appeals to the general public”.

Regional Western Australia was the only market to lose a television service following the shake-up of regional affiliations triggered by Nine entering into a new partnership with Southern Cross Austereo. Similar joint venture services in Tasmania (TDT) and Mildura (MDV) which had also lost access to Network Ten programming were spared the loss of service following last minute deals with Nine in the lead up to 1 July.

Programming was restored on West Digital at 7.30pm (WST) last night (Saturday), picking up Nine’s election night coverage — with 9Gem and 9GO also restored to the region.

YouTube: WATVPresentation

Source: ACMA




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Jul 01 2016

Regional TV winners and losers

SCA_newchannels_0001Image: Southern Cross Austereo

At midnight last night television history was made with the biggest upheaval to regional television since aggregation kicked off almost 30 years ago.

The catalyst for the change was Southern Cross Austereo, which operated a Network Ten affiliate in much of the eastern states, had signed a deal to change its affiliation to the Nine Network in the markets of Regional Queensland, Southern NSW/ACT and Regional Victoria.

win_2008As a result of Southern Cross Austereo’s move, rival network WIN, which had been primarily a Nine Network affiliate since the late 1980s, had forged a new agreement with Network Ten for the same markets as above but also for Mildura, Tasmania, Griffith and Regional Western Australia.

The changes were seen on-air from midnight last night as digital channel 5 changed from Ten programming to Nine, WIN channel 8 started carrying Network Ten programs, and a whole lot of swapping around with the multi-channels including 9Gem, 9Go, 9HD, One and Eleven.

Northern NSW, which includes the Gold Coast and Central Coast, Spencer Gulf/Broken Hill, Darwin and remote central Australia were about the only regional markets not touched by any changes.

But while all these changes were taking place some losers emerged. Viewers in regional Western Australia were to lose programming on their third commercial network, West Digital Television, as it had failed to come to an agreement with Nine over program supply details. West Digital, a joint venture between Prime7 and WIN, had been previously carrying the Network Ten signal but with WIN taking over Ten on its channel this left West Digital with having to agree to new terms with Nine. Negotiations were not to come to a resolution by midnight, so instead of switching to Nine programming, West Digital’s channels were left no option but to switch to screening a continuous loop of tranquil scenes of rural Australia — a glorified test pattern.

The same scenario was likely to have also taken place in Tasmania, where WIN took over the Network Ten signal, leaving Tasmanian Digital Television to strike up a deal with Nine. An agreement between TDT and Nine was very late in the making, with a deal being done late last night to ensure that Nine programs would continue to be shown in Tasmania.

In a statement issued by Prime Media Group and WIN on behalf of West Digital, the joint venture owners will endeavour to negotiate terms over the coming days to have Nine Network programming reinstated in regional Western Australia.

In the meantime viewers who are not seeing Nine Network programs can access them online via Nine’s viewing portal 9NOW.

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Jun 30 2016

1996: June 8-14

tvweek_080696Cover: Nicky Buckley (Sale Of The Century), Sam Newman (The Footy Show, Melbourne)

Damian’s alcohol abuse warning
This week’s episode of Blue Heelers sees Constable Adam Cooper (Damian Walshe-Howling) deeply distressed by the alcohol-related death of a teenage boy. “A group of young people, bored with living in a country town, get stuck into the alcohol one night,” Walshe-Howling told TV Week. “In a drunken dare, one of them falls from a high place, and died.” Adam is devastated by the death, and his inability to cope with it himself leads him to question whether he is cut out to be a policeman. “Adam has seen death before, but this one triggers off something in him. He goes through shock, denial and anger, and he doesn’t realise that in trying to hide his feelings, he’s actually becoming quite aggressive towards other people. He’s stressed out, and doesn’t know what to do. He learns through this episode that it’s okay to express emotions in whatever way they come out.”

marycoustasBig hair woman!
Effie (Mary Coustas) is returning to TV in a one-hour “docu-comedy” being produced for Network Ten. The project, produced by filmmaker and ABC presenter Don Parham, features Effie (pictured far right) travelling around Papua New Guinea during its 20th anniversary of independence celebrations. It is a shift away from Parham’s usual projects that have covered heavy topics such as domestic violence, divorce and homelessness. “All the documentaries I’ve done have been personally inspired, but this one is just a project that fell out of the sky and hit me in the head,” Parham told TV Week. “When I got the idea of Effie something sort of clicked in my mind. I had the impression that she had a kind of intelligence about her that would work in a really interesting way.” Parham faxed Coustas a 10-page outline of his idea. “Mary said to me later that the idea was so totally off the wall and ridiculous, and something that she would never dream of doing that she just had to do it.” The title of the program, Pig Bilong Big Hair Woman, came from the locals dubbing Effie “Big Hair Woman” and giving her a pig as a present in return for hairdressing tips. The special is due to air on Ten later in the year.

colinfriels_0001Frank’s final fling?
Water Rats character Sgt Frank Holloway (Colin Friels, pictured) is getting his life back together after the death of his brother, and is involved in a blossoming romance with colleague Sen-Constable Caroline Cox (Mary Regan). But things take a dramatic turn when Sgt Holloway is shot in the line of duty after stumbling into an armed hold-up. The shooting scene makes up only a few seconds of airtime, but the co-ordination and filming takes an entire morning, requiring Friels to replay the action over and over again, falling on to asphalt as a stunt car speeds away just metres from his head. “I’ve never had a problem doing the physical stunts,” Friels told TV Week. “In fact, that’s an easy part for me. And there’s always a stuntman on hand to do the hard ones.”

Hollywood heads Down Under
It was a big night for Aussie celebrities as they mingled with Hollywood stars at the opening of Australia’s first Planet Hollywood restaurant in Sydney. Among the overseas guests were Jean-Claude Van Damme, Cindy Crawford, Charlie Sheen, Danny Glover, Jackie Chan, Bill Paxton and Anna Paquin — joining Planet Hollywood key partners Bruce Willis and Sylvester Stallone. Local stars at the event included Kerri-Anne Kennerley, Julian McMahon, Georgie Parker, Barry Crocker, Melissa Tkautz, Steve Bastoni, Melissa George, Derryn Hinch, Dieter Brummer, Barry Otto and Home And Away stars including Nic Testoni, Isla Fisher and Tempany Deckert. The Sydney restaurant is the 32nd in the Planet Hollywood franchise worldwide.


  • simonwestaway_0003Viewers will have a chance to former Janus star Simon Westaway (pictured) in a role far removed from the gun-toting cop days, with a guest appearance in this week’s GP, where he plays the part of a lieutenant-colonel struggling with a changing army and deteriorating relations with his wife (played by Kim Lewis). “It’s an army story, but there’s no guns, no violence, which is to GP‘s credit,” Westaway told TV Week. “I think that is the appeal of GP. It tells unique stories and goes down new roads.”
  • Sam Newman, co-host of Nine‘s The Footy Show in Melbourne, is also kept busy with other media commitments including a weekly segment on Today, appearances on the Brisbane-based The Footy Show, live crosses to National Nine News bulletins in Perth, Adelaide and Brisbane, and as a panellist on the Sunday edition of The Footy Show in Melbourne. Newman has also revealed that he was made an offer, indirectly, by the Seven Network to swap networks. Even though Seven has the rights to AFL coverage, Newman wasn’t to be persuaded. “Sadly, some of the people at Seven wouldn’t know if the bandwagon carrying them to some sort of success, otherwise known as the AFL football machine, actually ran over them.”

TV’s National Top 10 (Week Commencing 19 May 1996):
Source: AC Nielsen Australia Pty Ltd

Rank Program Network Day(s) Viewers
1 State Of Origin: NSW v QLD Nine Mon 2357000
2 Blue Heelers Seven Tue 2285000
3 Movie: Cliffhanger Ten Sun 2237000
4 ER Nine Thu 2198000
5 Better Homes And Gardens Seven Tue 2093000
6 Our House Nine Wed 2012000
7 The Nanny Ten Sun 1997000
8 National Nine News Nine Sun 1954000
9 60 Minutes Nine Sun 1945000
10 The Great Outdoors Seven Tue 1930000

Program Highlights (Melbourne, June 8-14):
Saturday: In Sweat (5.30pm, Ten), Tom (Martin Henderson) performs brilliantly when he stands in for an injured member of the Aussie swim team. The NBL Mitsubishi Challenge (8.30pm, Ten) features the Melbourne Tigers versus South East Melbourne Magic, from Flinders Park in Melbourne. The Euro ’96 football championship begins with live coverage of the opening ceremony from Wembley Stadium (10.30pm, SBS), followed by the first match, England versus Switzerland (12am, SBS).

Sunday: AFL Sunday includes Fremantle versus Hawthorn (2pm, Seven), live from Perth, followed by an early edition of Seven Nightly News (5pm, Seven) before crossing live to Adelaide for Adelaide Crows versus West Coast Eagles (5.30pm, Seven). In Banjo Paterson’s Man From Snowy River (6.30pm, Nine), Montana (Gabrielle Fitzpatrick) is arrested for murder and an extradition order is issued. Nightly coverage of Euro ’96 begins with a one-hour highlights program (7pm, SBS) and live match coverage (11pm, SBS). Sunday night movies are Born Yesterday (Seven), Falling Down (repeat, Nine) and Night Of The Twisters (Ten).

Monday: The Queen’s Birthday public holiday includes live coverage of the Brisbane Cup (3.40pm, Nine) from Eagle Farm racecourse. In Neighbours (6.30pm, Ten), Libby (Kym Valentine) cops flack for her article in the newspaper. Healthy Wealthy And Wise (7.30pm, Ten) features Lyn Talbot‘s report on the range of CD-Roms currently available. In Pacific Drive (11pm, Nine), Amber (Christine Stephen-Daly) masquerades as Sonia’s ghost to send Aunty Georgina (Kate Raison) around the twist.

damianwalshehowling_0001Tuesday: In Home And Away (7pm, Seven), Simon (Julian Garner) returns and is obviously in love with Angel (Melissa George). In Better Homes And Gardens (7.30pm, Seven), John Jarratt builds a free-standing mirror, and Belinda Jeffery creates a chocolate cake… with potato. In GP (8.30pm, ABC), Henry (Steve Bisley) learns through watching his old army buddy succumb to stress that leaving the service was the best decision he ever made. In Blue Heelers (8.30pm, Seven), Adam (Damian Walshe-Howling, pictured) struggles to cope after he and Nick (William McInnes) discover the body of a teenager who died as the result of a drunken dare.

Wednesday: In Neighbours (6.30pm, Ten), Libby (Kym Valentine) is excited at the prospect of running an article in the Erinsborough News about Cheryl’s (Caroline Gillmer) kidnapping. The two-hour comedy special Comic Relief (8.30pm, Nine) features some of Australia’s best comic and celebrity talent as they raise funds for Community Aid Abroad. Included in the program are Elle McFeast (Libbi Gorr), Gerry Connolly, Tim Ferguson, Magda Szubanski, Peter Moon, Trevor Marmalade, Russell Gilbert, Glenn Robbins, Jane Hall, Mary Coustas and Shane Bourne. In Pacific Drive (11.15pm, Nine), Amber (Christine Stephen-Daly) and Trey (Lloyd Morris) are briefly united, while Laura’s (Simone Buchanan) fear of flood deepens.

victorialongley_0001Thursday: In Neighbours (6.30pm, Ten), Lou (Tom Oliver) receives a parcel sent by a mystery caller. Getaway (7.30pm, Nine) features Rebecca Harris‘ tour of the Sydney 2000 Olympic site. In Mercury (8.30pm, ABC), Bill Wyatt (Geoffrey Rush) and Georgi Singer (Victoria Longley, pictured) are on opposite sides when industrial trouble affects the Sunday Mercury.

Friday: In Home And Away (7pm, Seven), Jesse (Ben Unwin) runs from the police, and Alex (Nick Freedman) is rushed to hospital.

Source: TV Week (Melbourne edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide. 8 June 1996. Pacific Publications Pty Ltd.




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Jun 30 2016

1996: June 1-7

tvweek_010696Cover: Katrina Hobbs, Nic Testoni, Isla Fisher, Emily Symons (Home And Away)

‘I wanted to be the next Ray Martin!’
Former model Nic Testoni is enjoying current success in Home And Away, having scored a TV Week Logie Award earlier in the year, but recalls his start in the industry was far from glamorous. “I thought, ‘If I try (with community TV), maybe I might get somewhere. I’ll host my own show. If Ray (Martin) can do it, why can’t I?’,” he told TV Week. Testoni’s early days in community TV saw him work as a camera operator but also made on-screen appearances. “There were all kinds of people who would come in just to get a taste of the industry. We’d all dream about working for a network some day,” he said. “I reviewed television programs such as Home And Away… even then I knew it was a great show. It was like living out a fantasy of being Ray Martin,” he said. Testoni’s move into commercial television followed with Network Ten‘s short-lived Level 23 and a role in Seven‘s comedy-drama Over The Hill. His appearance in Over The Hill caught the eye of Home And Away producers and a three-month guest stint in the series has turned into a permanent role.

markmitchell_0004I dream of Genie
Mark Mitchell (pictured) says his latest role in the new series The Genie From Down Under is one of the most horrible he has ever played. “Otto van Meister is an appalling man,” he told TV Week. “He’s one of my favourite characters. It’s a dream role. I love it!” Otto is an Outback tour guide in the 13-part series produced by the Australian Children’s Television Foundation and BBC, and which debuts this week on ABC. The series also stars Monica Maughan, Rhys Muldoon, Fletcher Humphreys, Kylie Belling, Ian McFadyen, Glenn Meldrum and British actors Alexandra Milman and Anna Galvin.

Dash it, Tasma!
Western Australian-born actor Tasma Walton has beaten hundreds of applicants for the role of new constable Dash McKinley in Blue Heelers. It is actually Walton’s return to the series, having appeared once before in a guest role. “It’s going to be really challenging. It’s one of the best shows in Australia to work on,” she told TV Week.


  • The Nine Network has given the green light to a second series of Water Rats. “Our decision to proceed was easily reached when you consider Water Rats has consistently performed better than any other Australian drama in its first series,” Nine’s director of drama Kris Noble told TV Week.
  • Former Police Rescue star Jeremy Callaghan was in line for a role on Network Ten‘s new aviation drama Big Sky, but the network has told producers John Edwards and Sandra Levy that it does not want any former Police Rescue stars (other than Gary Sweet, who is already confirmed for the show) in the cast.
  • Aussie actor Julian McMahon is making the move from US daytime to prime time with a role in a pilot, Profiler. The NBC network has already ordered three episodes of the new series.
  • Good Morning Australia with Bert Newton (pictured) has celebrated 1000 episodes.


TV’s Top 20 (Week Commencing 12 May 1996): 

Rank Program Network Day(s) Viewers
1 Blue Heelers Seven Tue 2253000
2 ER Nine Thu 2173000
3 Better Homes And Gardens Seven Tue 2135000
4 Our House Nine Wed 2027000
5 National Nine News Nine Sat 1969000
6 National Nine News Nine Sun 1922000
7 The Great Outdoors Seven Tue 1907000
8 Ellen Seven Thu 1866000
9 JAG Seven Mon 1847000
10 Burke’s Backyard Nine Fri 1833000
11 National Nine News Nine M-F 1814000
12 60 Minutes Nine Sun 1804000
13 A Current Affair Nine M-F 1758000
14 Seven Nightly News Seven Sat 1735000
15 Hey Hey It’s Saturday Nine Sat 1735000
16 Grace Under Fire Seven Thu 1733000
17 The X Files Ten Wed 1676000
18 Chicago Hope Seven Wed 1670000
19 Money Nine Wed 1631000
20 Home And Away Seven M-F 1629000

Program Highlights (Melbourne, June 1-7):
Saturday: AFL Today (6pm, Seven) features the State Of Origin match, Victoria versus Allies, from the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Comedians Lano and Woodley (Colin Lane and Frank Woodley) are guest hosts on Hey Hey It’s Saturday (6.30pm, Nine).

Sunday: AFL Sunday (2pm, Seven) features the State Of Origin, South Australia versus Western Australia, live from Adelaide. In Banjo Paterson’s Man From Snowy River (6.30pm, Nine), a mysterious American stranger brings danger to Patersons Ridge. Sunday night movies are The Vanishing (Seven), Judicial Consent (Nine) and Groundhog Day (Ten).

Monday: New children’s series The Genie From Down Under (5pm, ABC) makes its debut. In Neighbours (6.30pm, Ten), Cheryl (Caroline Gillmer) has been taken hostage and Lou (Tom Oliver) expects the worst, while trying to handle his fear and grief as best he can. In Home And Away (7pm, Seven), Alex (Nick Freedman) is blinded by the explosion. In Healthy Wealthy And Wise (7.30pm, Ten), Jim Brown visits the Future Farming Energy Expo, and Cherie Di Haas has some old-fashioned remedies for winter colds. Daryl Somers hosts Hey Hey By Request No.4 (8.30pm, Nine), another collection of clips from the Hey Hey It’s Saturday archive; followed by delayed coverage of the Rugby League State Of Origin, New South Wales versus Queensland (9.30pm, Nine).

anniejones_0002Tuesday: In Neighbours (6.30pm, Ten), Lou (Tom Oliver) decides to appear on television to try and help Cheryl (Caroline Gillmer) and Toadie (Ryan Moloney). In GP (8.30pm, ABC), Yasmin’s (Leah Vandenberg) relationship with her lawyer boyfriend is compromised beyond redemption when she learns he is a fraud. Former Neighbours star Annie Jones (pictured) guest stars in Blue Heelers (8.30pm, Seven). The Crocodile Hunter special Return To The Wild (8.30pm, Nine) features Steve Irwin and his wife Terri returning to the wild to hunt and capture rogue crocodiles, the world’s deadliest snakes and large lizards.

Wednesday: In Neighbours (6.30pm, Ten), Toadie (Ryan Moloney) and Hannah (Rebecca Ritters) may have found a pot of gold under the Kennedy house. In Pacific Drive (11.15pm, Nine), Trey (Lloyd Morris) is held hostage and narrowly escapes death.

catrionarowntree_0001Thursday: In Getaway (7.30pm, Nine), Catriona Rowntree (pictured) goes rafting in the caves and lakes beneath the Nullarbor Plains, and later travels over the River Kwai in Thailand. A special episode of Quantum (8pm, ABC) — titled I Compute, Therefore I Am — looks at the possibility of a conscious robot.

Friday: In Neighbours (6.30pm, Ten), Danni (Eliza Szonert) is shocked when she learns that Luke (Bernard Curry) will not continue his chemotherapy sessions. Friday Night Football (9.30pm, Seven) features a delayed telecast of Footscray versus North Melbourne from the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Source: TV Week (Melbourne edition), incorporating TV Times and TV Guide. 1 June 1996. Pacific Publications Pty Ltd.



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